Medialab@HfG – Makerplace or waste of space?
Social design, 2018, Oct–Feb

Community design and explorable inspection of inputs, outputs & code

The media lab is a communal space and workshop for all students at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd ↗. We worked on how the design of the media lab could encourage students to use it independently and let them participate in shaping the space. Our intention is to promote exchange, exploration of technology and self-study.

Tech Showcase [...]
In 2018, the media lab looks more like a storage room than a place to learn.

Context The media lab of our university is a communal space and workshop for all students. In 2018 it remains closed due to a lack of personnel. Our goal is to revive the space. The organisation should be able to be managed independently by students.

ChallengeWhat is desirable for the media laboratory? In several workshops we work out solutions together with the first-semester students. How can they take part in ideation, design and decision making for reinventing the room?

The second part of the project is the Tech Showcase ↓

OutcomeThe project consists of two parts: The documentation of the participatory design process and the "Tech Showcase", a collection of interactive technology demonstrations.

The back room
Computers are not yet at the workstations
Some materials remain unsorted
In 2018 it remains closed due to a lack of personnel.
How can we let students participate in shaping the design of the media lab?

We wanted to create a lasting effect, which is why we collaborated with the people that will use the media lab the next three years: First semester students. Over a period of nine weeks we organized workshops to investigate problems and develop solutions. We provided an insight into design methodology for summarizing and evaluating the collected data and ideas. In a "rapid prototyping" workshop we quickly put ideas into practice. Furthermore, we provide feedback on the process and the ideas.

1 · Getting to know each other
2 · Observing the media lab
3 · Marking improvements
4 · Collecting ideas and building teams
5 · Organizing ideas using an affinity diagram
6 · Rapid prototyping workshop
7 · Presentation of the concepts and feedback
In the next semester our students took the initiative and introduced the media lab to the new students 🎉

Take a look at their workshop results ↗
Future curriculum for the next first semester students

Part 2: Inputs, Outputs & Code

Tech Showcase: Embracing the exploration of technology

The Tech Showcase creates access and fosters interest in experimentation. Elementary technical concepts and relevant program code are shown in a way that is understandable even for beginners. It helps students to assess possibilities and limitations of certain technologies and assess designing for it.

An Arduino is mounted to each board which is connected to a single component
How can we inspire students to experiment more with technology?

Concept Mounted on each board is an Arduino which is connected to a single component with visible wiring. When the board is plugged in via USB, students receive an interactive demonstration explaining the part’s input and output capabilities.

The setup of Tech Showcase
Button demo

Different chapters show which interactions are possible with a simple button input.

Interactive inspector

Students learn how code changes and can modify it through to the interactive inspector.

Our project shows that change does not always have to come from top. It is particularly valuable when students take initiative.

Reflection We never wanted to answer the question "whether the media lab was a waste of space" with a *Yes*. We were happy to find that students care to participate in shaping everyday student life and to move things forward. The Tech Showcase was not strictly necessary for the project but we hope it is a tangible addition to the "new" media lab that will be carried on once the staffing issue is resolved.

The most important learning is that it's not us that decide how a space like the media lab should unfold. It is up to students and stuff to change the room and adapt it to their needs. We are honored that the first semester has put its trust in us and we are confident that they will continue with introducing the place in a great way.

Thanks to all who participated with so much interest and we are curious to see what the media lab will look like in 10 years!

Type of work

Community Design, Social Design, Interaction Design


Student Work with Leonard Weigand ↗, HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd, Winter Term 2017/18


Take a look at the project documentation (.pdf) and the students' workshop documentations (.pdf)

My role involves

Research, Conception, Planning, Workshop, Supervision, UX & UI Design, Animation


Ann-Katrin Spörl and Prof. Hans Krämer ↗. Many thanks to Tomek Ness, Benedikt Groß, Benjamin Thomsen, Fab Lab Neckar-Alb and of course IG1 17/18.



Other work ↓